God has given us many fantastic gifts, but one is super special. It’s the gift of prayer. I know it sounds ‘cheesy’, but prayer really does unlock the door to all we hope to acquire, achieve or simply… become.
To be clear: prayer doesn’t guarantee we get our petitions. After all, we don’t know what’s best most of the time, God does; still, prayer is the invaluable first step.
You know, I think of prayer as a resource. As an access tool to help me unlock my special gift.
Want to know something terrific? Each and every born-again Christian has this same resource to utilize when we need it.
Prayer is more than just “asking” for this or that, it’s also the “open door” to build intimacy with the Father.
For the purposes of this written piece, let’s discuss prayer in the context of petition or supplication. Again, what a blessing it is we can go to the Father to ask what we need!
In the well-known hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” written by Joseph M. Scriven, he gives us such an eloquent depiction of our wonderful gift.
For instance, how can you read the following song verse and not be moved to tremendous gratitude?
“Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer”
Isn’t that beautiful? Yes, my friend, it is and we are incredibly gifted.
Your Keys to the Gift of Prayer
Jesus Christ is the ultimate “key” to all gifts we receive from the Father. After all, all our gifts are because of Him, from Him and through Him.
As for our gift of prayer, let’s talk about three keys to access it.
Key #1: Utilizing our Access to the Father
Key #2: Exercising Liberty and Freedom
Key #3: Praying the Process
Your heavenly Father, the one you can call “daddy” God, is the Creator of all things, yet, He cares about you and everything that matters to you.
He cares so deeply and so intently about you as well as those nagging stresses that keep you up at night.
Hey, you’re not just “another human being” to God.
No, you’re His cherished, beloved child. He hears you and He listens to you as you pour your heart out to Him. You have His attention. You have His heart and in the name of Jesus, you have his authority. What a blessing indeed!
Not to mention that your access to the Father never expires like some cell phone plan or something, but remains infinitely available by His grace and love.
This “key” was not always available to God’s people.
Before I fully reveal this ‘key’ to this treasured gift of prayer, let me tell you how blessed you are to have been born in this time in history!
As you know, the people of God didn’t always have the blessing of “access” we now enjoy as Christians.
They couldn’t just “seek God!” Absolutely not! They needed priests, prophets, sacrifices and “go betweens.”
Not us! We were born in a time of God’s grace, so we don’t need any sort of “middle man.” We can go boldly to the throne to find grace and help when we need it!
“Let us therefore come boldly
to the throne of grace, that we
may obtain mercy and find
grace to help in time of need.”
Most definitely, access to the Father is one of the precious keys of prayer. Best news of all: you already have this key!
All you have to do is turn the lock!
Now for the second key to your “prayer” gift.
The second key on our heavenly key chain is Liberty
In any part of the human experience, “liberty” is invaluable. People historically have given their very “all” for it and many have even died for it.
Liberty is a basic human right and a primal desire for sure.
Don’t you love the freedom to do what you want, when you want and how you want to do it? Of course you do!
While we can use sample prayers as we pray to God, or even “piggyback” off what is called “The Lord’s Prayer”, we’re not in any way limited to those specific words or expressions.
Again, we can come undaunted to the Lord any time we need Him.
God is also your Father. In that, He gives you the freedom to just holler out “HELP!” when you need to do so!
Remember Peter and his water-walking exploits in Matthew 14?
When he saw Jesus walking on water, he was like “Ummm… I wanna do that too, Jesus!”
I love how Jesus invited Peter to join him on the water!
Peter was just like us – ruled by “logic” and “sight” more so than faith.
Once on the water, he grew fearful.
You know what happened next: Peter soon began to sink!
Seeing he was in trouble, Peter wasted no time yelling out “Lord, save me!” and yes, Jesus did!
Peter had no time to find a “sample” prayer or think much about what he was going to say.
He just went for it and exclaimed “HEEEEEEEELP!”
You can see the whole thing play out in Matthew 14:30.
Point: God could care less about how you pray; He just wants you to pray. Use your liberty.
Public prayer vs. Private Prayer
As a pastor’s wife, I’ve seen first-hand the fear many young believers have about praying publicly. I always remind them to pray the exact same way publicly as they do privately.
“You are praying for an audience of ONE – Jesus”, I always say.
He just wants you to be yourself. That’s all.
For this reason, you can pray to your Father in your very own words – publicly and privately. No need to try to impress anyone else.
I must say, I love sample prayers – especially those at the end of devotionals. I even write them on my blog.
Be that as it may, I’m not limited to them and neither are you.
Remember, the power is not so much in the words you speak as it is in the power of Jesus Christ!
Isn’t that freeing?
You have the liberty to speak to God in your own tone without any mediator or any pretense at all. Such an astounding privilege, right? You can be 100% yourself – flaws, warts and all!
Unlock your prayer life and exercise the liberty and access you have in the Lord.
Now, for your final key to prayer- Persistence!
You should be 100% clear how blessed you are to have access to your holy, powerful loving God.
You also should indubitably understand the liberty He gives you to be authentically “you” during your prayer time.
Which brings us to our final key to unlock the gift of prayer.
It begins with two Friends – two Needs
I love the parable of the two friends Jesus talked about in Matthew 7. Don’t you?
Let me refresh your memory.
It begins with friend #1 sleeping comfortably in his warm, cozy bed into the night hours. He needed sleep.
Along comes friend #2. He knocks on his door in the “wee” hours of the morning to ask for bread to feed an a visitor who surprised him in the night. He needed bread.
The snoozing friend #1, was like “no way! We’re in bed, dude. Come back tomorrow.”
Jesus went on to say the friendship, in itself, wasn’t enough to get the sleeping friend # 1 out of bed to satisfy the request.
But, it was friend # 2’s dogged, relentless persistence – his continuous knocking and asking (pestering) that motivated the sleepy friend from his bed and satisfied the request.
My dad used to say “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.”
“Persistence wears down resistance”
The above statement about persistence is my husband’s favorite motto. He actually says that’s how he persuaded me to marry him many years ago. It’s not really true because I loved him almost from the start; I was just playing hard to get.
Anyway, friend #2 needed his bread and knew his persistence would pay off eventually. That’s faith, right?
Just like in the story of the two friends, Jesus invites us to be just as resolute in our prayers.
He even gives us a conceptual prayer “framework.”
This “framework” is found in Matthew 7: 7-12:
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
In this scripture, Jesus prompts us to ask, seek and knock tenaciously.
So, it’s ok to be like friend #2 in need of bread! It’s ok to keep on asking, continuously seeking and repeatedly knocking.
Meaning of Gift of Prayer
Jesus, the ultimate wordsmith, gives us the framework in such an intelligent way.
To clarify: have you ever noticed the first words in the “framework” literally spell out “A.S.K.”?
Ask (begins with an “A”)
Seek (begins with an “S”
Knock (you get this picture 🙂
You can’t persuade me it’s a coincidence!
God is intentional in all He does…even in how the Bible was translated!
That same intentionality is what causes all things to work together for our good!
Ask in Prayer
Some theologians say the “ask seek knock” structure Jesus introduces pertains to intensity or progression. I can see that.
The first progression is with our words; it is when we verbally ask for what we desire.
As you may recall, this is the first “key”; it is the access. We are able to go to God and ask Him for what we want. Incredible, right?
To recap, the “asking” is verbalizing our desire.
Secondly, we seek.
At this point, we must do “our” part to get our prayer answered.
I’m not saying our labor is always needed. Most of time, it is not.
Even so, faith without works is dead. No doubt about it.
Our action (or lack thereof) often plays a massive role in the fruition of prayer.
For example, let’s say you pray for healing.
Sometimes, you may need medication to attain it.
Or, in the case of a broken bone, physical therapy may be part of your healing process.
Of course it would be God Who brought about the healing, but you had something to do with it as well. You had to seek the resources to be healed.
Think about the woman healed from the issue of blood. How did she attain her healing?
Seek God in Prayer
She was totally in “seek” mode! My Bible (ASV) says in Matthew 9, verse 20, she “came up behind Him.” She did something. What did she do? She sought!
Do you think she would have been healed had she stayed home?
Further, it could be surmised she sought by being where Jesus was and she “knocked” by reaching out to touch Him.
First, let’s recap: initially, you request what you want, then you “do” or seek.
But you’re not finished!
Prayer is not usually a “one and done” scenario at all by any stretch of the imagination. You may have times it is that simple, but not often.
Yeah, you’ve got some “knocking” to do!
Something magical happens as we pray and something magical happens when we pray.
As we travail in prayer, the Father is teaching us reliance on Him.
He’s demonstrating his accessibility by the mere fact we can pray directly to Him.
But, there is more. We often must do what the “old people” in my life called “tarrying.”
As I understood it, tarrying was what we did as we waited, we pressed and we endured in faith.
It’s during this time we are asking, seeking, and knocking… over and over again.
It’s methodical and sometimes repetitive.
During this process, God is molding us, he’s humbling us and He is strengthening us…as we wait.
In the seeking, we figuratively (and maybe literally), throw up our hands and declare the name of the old hymn: “No other help I know!”
Prayer is a Gift to You
While we don’t pray repetitive prayers for the sake of repeating words, in our persistence struggle, we continue to petition; to ask – just like friend#2 in the parable.
For example, if a loved one is enduring a long-term, life-threatening illness, you’re probably not going to pray one time and then stop.
I’ll bet you’re going to spiritually “knock” time and time again.
This knocking may include fasting, asking friends to pray and finding scriptures on which to stand.
One final example from scripture: consider the two blind men introduced in Matthew 9:24.
They performed all three of the “ask, seek, knock” steps.
Only they did it in a different order. Let me illustrate:
- They sought (i.e. seek) when they followed Jesus in verse 27.
- They “asked” as they cried out “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
- Their “knock” (i.e.“the appropriate reasonable /action to gain access”) was their response after Jesus asked them “do you believe I can do this?”
Their response was perfect!!!
The men replied “Yes, Lord” and got their blessing! The two men were healed!
Ask. Seek. Knock.
That’s all you’ve got to do!